In spite of the efforts of the Midwinter Fair commissioners to keep all the amusements "family-oriented," a number of people cried out against what they perceived to be the indecency of many of the features of the exposition. The gum-girls, for example, who could be seen skittering around the fairgrounds smiling and hawking samples of chewing gum, raised the wrath of one visitor:
I went to the Midwinter Fair this week. The grounds looked very pretty, but I was disgusted with those pert gum, candy, and flower girls in short dresses. Most of them are really women and should not be allowed to go about exposing their limbs in such a bare-faced manner, and the ridiculous fools of men all seem to like it. The way I saw some of them going on with the men was shocking and I think I shall have to write Director-General M. H. de Young about the matter. I'm sure if he knew, he'd stop them right away.(18)
There is the distinct possibility that the above piece is satirical, directed against other such people who made this kind of objection. But there were also visitors who objected to the gum girls on other grounds:
The request has been made that visitors to the grounds will refrain from whistling "Two Little Girls in Blue." For a time the wonder was why this air should be so popular, but the mystery was soon solved. The concessionaire who has the sale of chewing gum dressed up a number of young ladies in short navy blue dresses trimmed with gold braid, navy caps, black stockings and tan shoes. The combination is a pretty one, and as the girls travel in couples an everlasting whistle of the popular air ("Two Little Girls in Blue") is the outcome.
At first it was amusing and the fair gumsellers joined in the merriment. Finally it became monotonous, as nearly every time a purchase was solicited an idiotic stare and a more or less outrageous rendition of the air would be the answer.(19)
However, it was not the gum-girls, but the scandalous "belly dances" that brought forth the most vehement expression of outraged public morality. Yet, as we see in the following piece, there may be more than a hint of fascination couched in terms of moral censure. Here is the report on the visit by the Society for the Suppression of Vice to the Turkish dances at the Midwinter Exposition:
The Society for the Suppression of Vice, upon the arrival here of those pretty but naughty Turkish dancing girls, determined that they would not permit them to demoralize the morality of the average San Franciscan by giving public exhibitions. At a recent meeting of the society it was moved that in the interest of fair play a committee of three should attend the dances in question and decide whether they were really immoral or not. But as each member of the society expressed a desire to be a member of the committee, it was decided in the interest of harmony to attend as a committee of the whole.
The girls gave them the exhibition in their rooms, and in justice to the society, it is but proper to state that every member did his duty by being present. At the conclusion of the performance it was the unanimous opinion of the gentlemen that it was hardly possible to agree upon a verdict as to the moral status of the dances without witnessing another trial, and in accordance with this sentiment a second performance was equally well attended.(20)
The Society for the Suppression of Vice suspected that the dancers were withholding the really lascivious parts of their dances for fear that the committee members would not allow them to perform. Ever zealous, the Society for the Suppression of Vice decided not only to keep monitoring the dances throughout the exposition, but to keep the Hawaiian hula dancers under close observation as well.